It would be easy to say “My kid won’t get a phone until they can pay for it themselves”. I hear it everyday. I hear, “Why does your 10 year old have a phone? They don’t need a phone at that age!”. Thing is, they do. In my opinion it’s unrealistic to think that a child doesn’t need to grow up with the technology we use day to day, and that includes phones, computers and tablets.
I at one point thought, there’s no way my kids need a phone or a tablet. My mind has changed. Once my oldest daughter (who’s now 11) started venturing out into the neighborhood on her own, going to the park, to her friends houses, I started to worry. It’s a different world out there than what we grew up in, I needed to know she was ok, I needed to know where she was at all times. Call me a helicopter mom, so be it, I wanted to know my child was safe! So, we got her a phone…..
Thing is, how to do make sure they’re safe within not only your own neighborhood, but within their technology community as well? You worry about the dangers lurking online, the dangers lurking in social media, you don’t want your child to get mixed up in that mess. Yes, I worry about that too, but we have safe guards and we talk to our daughter about the ‘rules’ and ‘responsibilities’ she has with her phone, tablet and computer.
Step 1 – Establish master passwords. Each device our children own have a password attached to just log into. Do they know this password? No! It’s known only by myself and my husband. This means that to get on their computer or tablet, our children must ask permission first.
Step 2 – Know what your carrier offers. Your wireless carriers should provide some good features and apps to use when it comes to family safety. Being Verizon Wireless customers, we are offered Family Base which lets you track your kids activity like when they access the internet, or text from their device. You can also see when they’re using their their phone or internet, and read text messages.
Step 3 – Know the Apps they’re downloading. My oldest daughter really wanted to download this game called Five Nights of Freddy, so I downloaded it onto my device first and checked it out before I would allow her to download it. We also have a password on the Google Play Store, in which she doesn’t know, therefore in order to download something from the Play Store, again she has to ask permission. This lessens the chance of her downloading apps she has no business using. As for social media, she’s allowed to use Facebook as we have a lot of family out of state/country, however, we again have a password that she doesn’t even know. She’s logged in, however, I can also log in at any point in time on my own device to see exactly what she’s been doing. I made sure that her Facebook profile is also private, so no one can see her posts or photos unless they’re friends with her.
It may seem intrusive to some, however the safety of my children come first. So why bother letting them use technology if I’m afraid of danger? Because it’s a part of our world today. Location services also help when she’s out with her friends. At any point in time, I can use my Google + app to see her location. She only has her location on her device to share with myself and my husband, so the entire world doesn’t know where she is, it’s just us.
One of the first things we did as well, was talk to our daughters about the dangers of going online. We taught them not to friend people they don’t know. Not to give personal information like their real names, the places they go, the city they live in. Only friend those people that you 100% know who they are in real life.
One of my favorite apps that we have on all of our children’s devices is called Screen Time Parental Control and on our devices we have the Screen Time Remote. This app does cost money, it’s not free, however, it’s well worth the investment. We are able to lock apps, lock the phones during certain times of days. We also get emails whenever something has been changed or downloaded onto the devices. Daily emails also tell us how much time they have been on their devices for the day.
Using Screen Time Parental Control we have set hours on each device. We have a school time lock, which locks all apps except for texting and phone usage. We also have a time limit after school house during the week (1 hour of use) and a bedtime lock where they cannot use apps, Google etc. We have ran into trouble in the past where my oldest had snuck her tablet up to bed and stayed up all night watching YouTube and playing games. With Screen Time, this is no longer an issue. Weekend hours are set to 4 hours of use, however, during the week (and on weekends) they can earn more time by asking us through the app. For instance, cleaning room adds 15 mins of time, and other various chores allows them to ask us through the Screen Time App, and we can approve or not for more time to be added from our own devices.
We can also see what they’ve been doing through our own device, we can see if they’ve been on YouTube, for how long and what they’ve been watching and/or searching for. We can see Google Searches as well.
The thing with Kids and Technology isn’t much about the age, it’s how responsible they are with it, and how you as a parent take part in having safety talks with them, and how you monitor their usage. It isn’t that you can’t, it’s finding the right ways you need to monitor your children. We’ve had talks about other social media such as Twitter, Instagram, KIK and SnapChat, and how they’re not age appropriate or something they need to be a part of at this age, and the dangers that can come along with some social media networks.
I don’t have teens just yet, we’re almost there, I’m sure there’s more talks to come, but for now, this is how we’ve chosen to keep our kids safe with technology.
No compensation was made for this post – all opinions expressed here are my own.
February 4, 2015 – 12:34 AM - | Posted in Internet Safety, technology | No Comments »